The Hollywood Reporter Unveils the Top 25 Film Schools of 2013

10:00 AM PST 07/31/2013 by Tim Appelo
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Illustration by: Tang Yau Hoong

USC boasts a new Interactive Media Building; AFI counters it's got James L. Brooks as its new artistic director. In its third annual ranking, THR surveys the nation's top institutions as they compete to turn out Oscar winners.

6. Columbia University

"Unlike schools that are feeders into the Hollywood system, the combination of craft and business savvy that we teach at Columbia makes our students more entrepreneurial and more ready for the changing environment they will be faced with upon graduation," argues chairman Ira Deutchman, who heads the graduate school. "Being almost exactly halfway between Europe and Los Angeles, we prepare the students for multiple ways of approaching the market, whether it be through government subsidy outside the U.S., independent/private finance, working for TV or any combination thereof." For proof, check out the 23 films made this year by alums within their first 12 months after graduation. Deutchman chalks it up partly to the 24-student Creative Producing program within the film MFA, which expanded in 2010, enhancing production values and increasing collaboration among producers, writers and directors so they are ready to roll on graduation day. Students have taken medals in narrative film at the Student Oscars three years running and won the TV Academy's spec script competition two years in a row. They're well represented in the shorts selections at Cannes, Tribeca and Sundance. While awaiting a $5 million screening room due in 2016 on the Manhattan campus, students show movies at Columbia's film festival, held with the Film Society of Lincoln Center -- and perhaps dream of following Ayad Akhtar, who won 2013's Pulitzer Prize for drama for his play Disgraced, or replicating the success of alum James Ponsoldt, who has premiered his past two films, Smashed and The Spectacular Now, at Sundance in 2012 and 2013, respectively.

Tuition: MFA $51,674 a year for first two years; $4,268 for third year

Notable Alumni: Writers Phil Johnston (Wreck-It Ralph), Simon Kinberg (This Means War) and Jennifer Lee (Wreck-It Ralph), director Greg Mottola (Superbad)

 

7. Chapman University

Chapman's Dodge College of Film & Media Arts in Orange, Calif., boasts alumnus Travis Knox's Chapman Filmed Entertainment, a partnership between the college and private investors. Under the program, producer Knox (The Bucket List) recently wrapped Trigger, a $1.25 million film with Scott Glenn (Training Day) and dozens of Chapman alums, including director Basel Owies. If it makes money, expect to hear lots more about the program's slate of six movies, each budgeted at $1 million or less. Chapman also has such filmmakers in residence as Robert Zemeckis and Bong Joon-Ho, professor Dawn Taubin's annual Women in Film panel, and an advertising/PR program that gets grads jobs -- Alex Kirkwood, Fox creative director, domestic theatrical marketing, is just one example. Says recent grad Max Keller: "I have no fear of postgraduation life. I've taken classes from people who used to run the legal department at New Line and Universal, ran marketing and distribution for Miramax, have been nominated for Oscars. I've written, directed, and edited movies. I've been the assistant to the guy who discovered Scorsese and De Niro." The day after graduation, Keller went to work for Greg Foster, CEO of Imax Entertainment.

Tuition: $42,890 undergraduate; $33,540 to $41,100 graduate

Notable Alumni: Actor Ben York Jones (Like Crazy)

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8. Emerson College

Although Emerson's main campus is in Boston, its presence has loomed large in Los Angeles since it became the first out-of-town college to develop a residential study and internship program here in 1986. The school's Department of Visual & Media Arts will become a more permanent resident in January when classes open in a new 100,000-square-foot Hollywood Center on Sunset Boulevard. "Immersion in a city that caters professionally to your passion is very attractive to our students," says Friends producer Kevin Bright, founding director of the L.A. campus.

Tuition: $35,072 undergraduate; $17,540 to $26,308 graduate

Notable Alumni: Will & Grace creator Max Mutchnik, Henry Winkler, Parks and Recreation executive producer Harris Wittels

 

9. Loyola Marymount University

LMU's School of Film and Television, based on the Westside of Los Angeles, is all about the internships. One-third of its students regularly find them, and they've worked in 400 companies, including Sony Pictures Entertainment, 20th Century Fox, DreamWorks, Disney and the Sundance Institute. LMU is growing its documentary program by placing students at Ken Burns' company in New Hampshire. And thanks to a $1 million grant from the Walter Lantz Foundation -- Lantz was the creator of Woody Woodpecker -- LMU's animation department cracked the top 20 in Animation Career Review's annual list of great programs, beating out five schools on THR's own film school list, including NYU. Animators, take warning: Applications have tripled this year. Gaming is another hot program: The New York Times recently hailed a game alum Leonard Menchiari is developing that's inspired by street demonstrations in Italy and Europe. LMU also has struck an alliance with Film Independent's Screenwriting Lab to mentor grads, and, last January, it hosted the 10th annual Golden Globe Foreign Language Film Symposium, featuring Globe and Oscar winner Michael Haneke. It also partnered with LACMA for last summer's James Bond exhibit, but that shouldn't have come as a surprise because Bond producer Barbara Broccoli is an LMU alum.

Tuition: $37,605 undergraduate; $1,020 per unit graduate

Notable Alumni: Writer Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential), director Francis Lawrence (The Hunger Games sequels), writer-producer David Mirkin (The Simpsons)

 

10. University of Texas at Austin

UT's Radio-Television-Film department in the actual and artistic capital of the Lone Star State trains about 900 undergraduate and 160 graduate students. Students can screen work at the nearby Paramount Theatre and influential indie Alamo Drafthouse before showcasing it on the national film scene, like MFA graduate Brian Schwarz did when he won this year's narrative Student Academy Award for his film Ol' Daddy. Each semester, 45 students go Hollywood in the UTLA program.

Tuition: $9,664 undergraduate ($33,348 out-of-state)

Notable Alumni: Matthew McConaughey, Greek creator Patrick Sean Smith, Arrested Development director Lev Spiro, writer-director Michael Zinberg (The Bob Newhart Show, Quantum Leap)

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